2010 Players Championship Odds and Predictions
by Matt Severance - 5/5/2010
It’s golf’s “fifth major” this week as the PGA Tour returns to Florida for the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass outside Jacksonville – of course the Stadium Course is home to the famed island green 17th hole. This week’s stop also has the biggest purse of any tournament and offers more points in the world rankings than any other stop.
That latter point is relevant because Phil Mickelson can overtake Tiger Woods for No. 1 in the world if Lefty – off a second-place finish at Quail Hollow – can win this tournament and Tiger doesn’t finish in the Top 5. The last player to supplant Woods as No. 1 was Vijay Singh some six years ago. Mickelson won this tournament back in 2007 but hasn’t been much of a factor the past two years.
It’s great for Tiger backers that Mickelson is playing so well because for the first time in I-don’t-know-when Woods isn’t the betting favorite this week. Bodog lists Mickelson at 7/1 and Tiger at 8/1 – no doubt those numbers are influenced by Tiger’s missed cut and second-round 79 (his worst round ever in America) last week. I know last week I said to never bother betting on Woods, but at 8/1 it might be worth it this week. The last time Tiger missed a cut was last year’s British Open, and then he won the next two tournaments he entered. The previous time he missed a cut before that was the 2006 U.S. Open. And all he did to close out that season was finish the following: T2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1.
So, clearly, Woods get focused after being embarrassed, and he said this week he knows “what the fix is.” Tiger was in the hunt entering the final round of The Players last year but finished eighth after a Sunday 73. Woods hasn’t won this tournament since 2001 and has just one top 10 at The Players in his last seven starts.
By the way, two players who certainly could have won this tournament, Anthony Kim and Steve Stricker, both withdrew early this week. While Tiger is good betting value at The Players, I will still give you a few longer shots who might be worth a look (all odds from Bodog). But be aware that it’s usually a fairly big name who wins this tournament, maybe with the exception of Stephen Ames (2006) and Craig Perks (2002) in the past 20 years or so.
Ian Poulter (25/1): The Brit hasn’t played since finishing tied for 10th at the Masters. He was planning to play last week at Quail Hollow but injured his knee playing basketball at home. Poulter says the knee is fine. He finished second behind Henrik Stenson at last year’s Players, and had just six bogeys all week. Poulter has missed the cut just once in six visits to Sawgrass. By the way, Poulter will be paired with Tiger for the first two rounds, and while that might not be a good thing for some players, Poulter likes the attention.
Stephen Ames (50/1): The 2006 winner is No. 2 on the all-time money list at this event, with more than $2.76 million. Here’s a great stat from the PGA Tour: In even-numbered years going back to 2002, Ames has finished 5th-1st-T13-2nd at the Players. Only two players have won this tournament twice since it was renamed the Players Championship following the 1987 event: Davis Love and Steve Elkington. Five of the last eight Sawgrass winners have been non-Americans, and that includes Canada’s Ames.
Sergio Garcia (66/1): Sergio is the all-time money leader at this event – won it in 2008 -- but has not been good on the PGA Tour this year with only one Top-25 finish in eight events. Garcia, now 30, really needs a kick-start to his career as he hasn’t had a top-three finish anywhere for 18 months and is down to No. 25 in the world. But this is always one of his favorite stops as well as the site of his biggest win. Sergio finished T22 here last year.
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